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ArcelorMittal helps farmers brave South Africa drought

ArcelorMittal South Africa is helping farmers feed their livestock during one the toughest droughts in the country’s history.

The company’s Newcastle Works is supporting struggling farmers from the Xhariep District in the Southern Free State by donating 20 bales of hay a week until the end of March 2016.

Around 200 hay bales will be donated in total using cut grass from the company’s operations in Newcastle.

South Africa is in the grip of one of the worst droughts in its history and the current El Nino event – caused by the warming of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean – has triggered the driest spell since 1982. 

Albert Ungerer, a protective services manager at the Newcastle Works, said: “We are very aware that the agricultural sector is struggling and we are delighted that we can contribute in some small way to help farmers sustain their livestock.

“The support we have received from suppliers and associates in this project has been phenomenal. Logistics companies Sathala, PLS and Keralox are transporting the bales to Zastron at no cost, and we are indebted to Dr Masiteng from the Free State Department of Agriculture for making the process flawless”.

Five of the country’s nine provinces have been declared drought disaster areas and the Free State is among the hardest hit, with farmers battling to feed their livestock. 

The area is one of South Africa’s most important farming regions, accounting for 14.5% of commercial farming. The area is referred to as the bread-basket of the country, producing maize, beans, wheat, sorghum, sunflowers, potatoes, groundnuts and 90% of the country’s cherry production.

Image: Bert Kaufmann

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